INTRODUCING MEDITATION TO PUBLIC SCHOOL. EVIDENCES OF MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS. PART 1
In today's article, I'd like to feature meditation applied to children. If you are familiar with meditation or have ever tried to meditate, you know that it does not take long for a mental chatter to get loud. And if you keep trying to get rid of these thoughts, they might become even louder. We are currently living in a constantly transforming reality where information flows really quickly. On a daily basis, both in visual and verbal form, we are bombarded by messages. For a mature psyche, it is possible to learn how to ignore aggressive informational attacks. The kid, whose perceptive mechanisms are still shaping, can adapt to this environment, but as a result of the process of this adaptation, he/she might develop a responsive mechanism that consists either in consuming all the information that is proposed by mass-media or in closing up. In both cases, the environment leaves children less space for interaction with each other, the world and finally but not less importantly, with themselves! Therefore, teaching meditation by infusing it into the school day as a matter, of course, may help kids to cope with their mental and emotional hurricanes.
The research on meditation and the developing brain is just starting to take off. Here are some of the benefits that research tells us meditation and mindfulness can offer kids.
One thing that parents and teachers are perpetually concerned about in kids is attention. Studies have shown that meditation can help kids to:
- have better concentration at school;
- improve attention and behavior problems;
- reduce anxiety in kids who started out with high anxiety levels;
- reduce hyperactive behaviors;
- improve concentration.
Other studies are currently underway to continue exploring the connection of meditation and children capacity to focus.
A bump in attendance and grades in school
Some scientific evidence suggests that meditation in schools may help improve grades and attendance. Alice Walton, the Forbes contributor, describes one school district in California that expanded its school day by half an hour in some of its “high-risk” schools, to build meditation into the day. As a result, the schools have reported better attendance and grades, fewer suspensions, and generally happier and less aggressive kids. Here is a scientific evidence of the correlation between meditation and a boosted intellectual and emotional capacity. According to Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harward, meditation and yoga help to decrease anxiety and increase mindfulness. She conducted an 8-week experiment to explain how it really works. The control group consisted of the people who have never practiced meditation. After 8 weeks of the experiment, during which participants meditated 30 mins every day, MRI scanner evidenced growth in certain parts of the brain of participants:
- Hippocampus, the area that is responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation;
- The temporoparietal junction that is responsible for perspective-taking, empathy, and compassion.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Photo credit: Huffington Post